1. Choose a topic
Start broad and narrow your focus
Narrow according to historical time period, genre, theological/social themes
This process of narrowing your focus can be done in conjunction with the next step, literature review.
2. Begin literature review
Review enough material that you know the historical context of the issues/events that you will be studying.
For the literature review, include material that relates to your topic and some way in which you will contribute to your discipline.
Discuss with your advisor your plan of action, your methodology, the issues/events that will help make an argument/contribution to your discipline.
3. Begin writing the thesis proposal. The proposal can be just a few pages, and will be expanded to become your first chapter.
It could include the following parts:
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
ELABORATION OF THE PROBLEM
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE PROBLEM
SCOPE AND LIMITATIONS
METHOD OF STUDY
Find detailed explanation of thesis proposal here: www.barnabas.in/writing-a-thesis-proposal/
4. Write your thesis/dissertation, which could consist of the following chapters:
Chapter 1: introduction to topic, literature review/problem area, methodology, research questions (your Thesis Proposal).
Chapter 2: literature review of relevant materials related to topic, your discipline, and other disciplines; other literature related to problem area within discipline that you want to address.
Chapter 3: Methodology: description of approach to collecting data, whether surveys, scientific analysis, texts, or interviews (or some combination), description of theoretical framework for analysis (sometimes this goes in the literature review).
Chapter 4: Analysis of data: organize and code data into major themes that help you to advance an argument. Themes should be structured around the central argument of your thesis/dissertation. You may have an idea of the argument you want to advance, but that can change as you begin to analyze your data.
Chapter 5: Conclusion: explore how your analysis of data supports your overarching argument and what contributions your study makes to your discipline. This is an important part of the thesis/dissertation, and should be well-developed.
5. STAY ORGANIZED
Make a master list of every book you consult – even if you didn’t find anything you could immediately use.
Make a second list of Sources Consulted.
Keep everything backed up using Google Drive, Dropbox, or any good backup option.
As you read books and journal articles, write down at least one sentence or description of the idea that might be useful to your research. Even if it doesn’t apply to the chapter you are currently working on, you can add it later.
6. Create a Plan of Action
In consultation with your advisor, set goals regarding when you will complete the first draft of each chapter.
Set goals for yourself for how much work you will accomplish each week, working up to the due date for each chapter.
ENJOY YOUR RESEARCH
*This lesson has been prepared by Alexi E. George, D.Th.
Resources for research and academic study: www.barnabas.in/academic-resources/